Its hard to believe that three years ago a little title called Trials HD would make such a big buzz on XBLA. Here we are today, now finally able to play the sequel, Trial Evolution, where its survival of the fastest. Where Trials HD was primarily a single player game at its core and all the levels in a warehouse setting, Trials Evolution lives up to its name and really does evolve the game from what it once was. Trials Evolution is no longer confined indoors nor to a single player experience; now youre able to play and create levels outdoors in a vast setting and even play up to four players simultaneously online or even local couch co-op.
The first thing youll want to do is to customize how your rider looks. As you gain money for completing levels you can spend it on new clothing items like shirts, jackets, gloves, pants, boots, helmets, and then customize the color of each item to make your stand out among all the other riders. I suggest doing this first cause I found that many people who jump online havent done so and are all using the default clothing and colors, making it difficult to distinguish themselves from the opponents when riding side by side. Luckily I dont have that problem with my bright pink rider and bike with an alien-like helmet. While there are a dozen or so choices for each clothing item, I kind of do wish there were some more outlandish choices, but its not a deal breaker, as youll be too focused on your balance more than anything else.
Trials HD was a fantastic game, though not without its faults; the biggest being that you hit a brick wall of difficulty out of nowhere and many people were unable to progress due to this steep difficulty spike. Once race you were having a great time, hitting all the right lines and the next you cant get past the first obstacle and become incredibly frustrated. Evolution learned from its predecessors mistake and the difficulty is much more gradual this time and does a much better job at teaching you the smaller nuances and shifting your riders weight back and forth rather than just throwing you in the deep end, hoping youll know how to swim. While I found the later tracks to be much harder than in Trials HD, overall it feels easier because there are many more checkpoints, almost to the point of being too many. Some levels it seems like theres a checkpoint for every obstacle or gap you need to clear, which isnt a bad thing, as the Trial pros will still be able to do it without crashing.
The single player has you earning licenses from D to A class, teaching you new tricks along the way if youre new to the series. The campaign feels much more balanced this time around and youre challenged with trying to get gold, silver, or bronze medals in your outings. You need a certain amount of medals to progress further in the campaign, so simply clearing each course and getting a bronze wont cut it, as youll need to go back to older tracks with the faster bikes you unlock to gain those gold medals worth three points. The change of outdoor tracks alone makes the game feel fresh and new, not to mention that your singe axis driving now can take turns so to speak. While youll always be playing on the X-axis driving line, the game will almost seem to rotate as you make corners, always keeping the camera angle where you normally see your rider, but its an odd sensation at first.
There are more than enough tracks in the single player to keep you occupied for many hours, but this can be exponentially expanded with the track editor, allowing you to create and download maps online. While many of the new tracks are outdoors to show off the games new coat of paint, there are some indoor and warehouse style tracks as well for the faithful. There are even some very unique tracks like the Limbo inspired track and the always enduring Gigatrack that literally takes about ten to fifteen minutes to complete, compared to most tracks minute mark. New minigames also are included that range from a Splosion Man inspired level, UFO piloting, to even one where you have to bail off your bike then spam the buttons to flap your arms like a bird to get the furthest distance. Sadly my favorites like Hill Climb and Bone Break are missing from HD, but Ive already seen someone create their own Hill Climb map to download.
Technically Trials HD had a track editor, but you were only able to share your creations among your friends, making it almost useless in the grand scheme of things. This too has been remedied and any track you create you can upload and share online very easily. Even on the first day there were more than enough maps to download and try, and as time goes on and people get used to the editor, better creations will surface. If you used the editor in HD then youll feel right at home with the basics but theres even a Pro editor included that allows for much deeper customization and creations you cant even imagine. Its akin to the editor in Little Big Planet, where if you can think it, you can probably make it. This means you can make a shooter game, pinball, Monkey Ball-like maps, or even Foosball.
Its a serious editor but that also means youll need to put some serious time into learning it if you want to create the spectacles that will be popular with the community. This is by no means a bad thing, but even moving the camera around in the editor will take some getting used to, so be warned, the editor will take many hours to become comfortable with. Luckily for you lazy gamers like myself, you can just download everyone elses creations easily that is sorted into multiple categories to easily find the tracks you want. I dont see Trials Evolution becoming stale anytime soon with so much content readily accessible. Leaderboards will even be tracked for user created maps; this is a huge deal in my opinion and RedLynx is doing all the right things this time around.
So if you were like me and always wanted to play at the same time with your friends aside from racing their ghosts, you have now been granted your wish. Multiplayer is included and allows up to four racers to compete at the same time either locally or online. Seeing how so many games forget that people still love couch co-op, its fantastic that its included for when some buddies drop by. Most people will probably enjoy the new Supercross mode which has all four players on the screen in different lanes on the same track. The first to the end with the least amount of crashes will garner the most points. You can setup private rooms to customize what tracks, how many heats, or even allow bailout finishes for those close races.
Youre also able to play the regular Trial maps, and while you wont be racing side by side, you will see the other three players ghosts in real time. My only nitpick of the multiplayer is that youre unable to add AI riders if you dont have a full team of four, but again, its not a deal breaker by any means. Things become intense when playing online with your friends and there is sure to be much screaming and cheering to be had by all.
Im curious to see if Trials Evolution will get some DLC since you can make almost any track, game, or variant that you could possibly think of. At 1200 Microsoft Points, Trials Evolution is a steal, I would have actually paid double that considering how much content is included and how creative the community will be with their creations. As the saying goes, bigger and better, and thats exactly what Trials Evolution is. This is the perfect example of what an XBLA title should be.